Thursday, November 7, 2013

Upcoming Holidays 2013

As the holidays start to roll around, we all tend to get wrapped up in the gift giving and receiving. Most don't take the time to stop and give thanks for all that they have, like their family. I for one, have always been one of those people until last year. Last year the Lord threw a kink in my chain and made me stop and realize that my gift TRULY is that my loved ones are still in my presence. I have since then became so much more aware of my family's presence and well being. Ava Grace was no mistake. Her diagnosis was no happenstance. She was my family's miracle. Our family was blessed with the most precious gift of all............a angel. She brought our family closer than close. She made us appreciates the seconds in the day, not the hours. She made me appreciate a healthy pregnancy and child. She made me realize that in a blink of an eye, someone can be gone from your life forever and you shouldn't wait until the next time you see someone or hear from them to tell them the meaning in your life. MAKE THAT CALL, DRIVE THAT DRIVE. Heck, send that text. As we roll into our holiday season, my family will give back.

Last year The Oakes and Casavechia family merged together and started a new family tradition in memory of our own angels, Ava Grace Oakes and Hayden Brent Casavechia. We started the gift of giving. Not to each other, but to the children that reside at Batson Children's Hospital in Jackson, MS. This is where our angels lived in and out of, until their last day on earth. Most people don't know about or even think about sending their children to Mississippi's only children's hospital. Everyone has heard of  Le Bonheur Children's Hospital or St. Jude, but have yet to hear about Batson Children's Hospital. That's where we are coming in. We want everyone to know of this magnificent hospital that we have right in our own back yard. We want people to know about the children that are treated there every day and have fantastic results. We want everyone to know that what a compassionate, kind, child-friendly environment this hospital has. This year we want to give back to the hospital family. We want each child that is in the hospital this year at Christmas, to receive a Christmas stocking full of goodies. We want them to feel like they are not missing out on the most important day of the year just because they are ill.

This year will be our second year as "one big family" that will give back to our second home. We plan on doing this with the help of our friends, family and community. On December 2-7th we will be accepting stocking drop off's at Oakes Toyota in Greenville, MS from 9am-4pm daily. With each stocking that is dropped off, we will enter your name in a drawing for wonderful prizes that will be given away throughout the final day (December 7th). Local businesses have come together and donated various products, certificates, and other items to be given away. This is a way for our community to unite and help bring in as many stockings for these earth angels as possible. Did you know that Batson gets approximately 9,000+ admissions a year? Did you know that their bright and vibrant Emergency Department sees over 100,000 children each year? These are your neighbors, your family or your friends. My oldest was also recently hospitalized for a illness that was treated as best as possible locally, but needed admission and more intense treatment than was available at home. We immediately drove to Jackson. I do not regret a moment of that drive. The emergency room welcomed us like we were a "no knock on the door friends". They were compassionate and understanding, not only to my son, but to a mother that had lost her little one a year earlier. They don't "treat" you here, they "help" you. There is a huge difference.

Can I hear the gears grinding in your head, trying to figure out what you can stuff your donated stockings with? I sure hope so. This year when we drop off the stockings at Batson, we pray that there are so many stockings that each of the children get one. Not just the children who are staying there short term, but the children that live there indefinitely, because upon being diagnosed their parents decided that they could not have/take care of a special needs child. There is a whole floor dedicated to the resident children who call this cheerful hospital HOME. There are babies in the NICU that will call Batson home. While Ava Grace was in NICU, there were 4 babies that called Batson home. It was bittersweet. Bitter in the sense that they would possibly never know home in my sense of the word (unless adopted). Sweet because the nurses fought over who got to take care of these children because they were step in "mom or dad". Could you imagine not having Christmas or worse, not knowing what Christmas is truly originated from? This year our family will also be including Christmas angels with their story book of how Jesus is the reason for Christmas. These will go into the stockings to be given to the children of Batson. We will also have a Christmas angel on site and a Santa to take pictures with. If you've never heard of the Christmas angel, it's like the elf on the shelf, but MORE meaningful and comes with a wonderful story in restoring the spirit of Christmas.

We will also have a fish fry from 11am until we run out. Last year this fish was so wonderful that we ran out quick. The plates will cost $10 per adult and $5 per child. All proceeds will go to Batson Children's Hospital. T-Chelle's Confections will be donating a cake also. If you have not had her cakes, you are definitely missing out. She has personally became my go to person for cakes.

In all this event announcing, I seemed to have left off the most important thing........LOVE. Having the support of everyone for this event, not only brings awareness to the hospital, gifts to children, but it brings LOVE and HOPE back into mine, Bryan, Lauren and Brent's hearts that our children are not forgotten. It shows us that there are people out there that remember our children's faces and their stories. Our stories have brought many people to the Lord. They have brought them closer to each other. To hear these words and see the support of a cause that is so dear to us, warms our holidays up dramatically. The Lord is the reason that we are still standing. He is the reason that we stand tall and proud and are able to show our appreciation to HIM for loaning us two of his angels. We know that they are still with us and nothing will ever change that. We were truly blessed to have such awesome children in our life to remind us of the importance of each other and the work that the Lord is capable of.  Thank you in advance for your support and understanding of our SECOND reason for the season.  We love you.

Ava  Grace Oakes

Hayden Brent Casavechia's blog:
“If you know someone who has lost a child, and you’re afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died–you’re not reminding them. They didn’t forget they died. What you’re reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and that is a great gift.”
- Elizabeth Edwards
“Comfort comes from knowing that people have made the same journey. And solace comes from understanding how others have learned to sing again.”
― Helen Steiner Rice